Project Stakeholders - Managing projects

Identifying your project stakeholders is key to your project's success. Stakeholders can champion your project and help drive success, but they can also be very effective
Powerful Stakeholders are much more likely to sabotage your project if they don't feel engaged.

"many projects fail to involve one or more critically important Stakeholders during project definition and planning. The resulting problems are easily predictable: requirements conflicts and rework, at a minimum; and sometimes more dire consequences, including lawsuits or hefty fines." (Eric Verzuh, 2008)

Who are Project Stakeholders?

The Association for Project Management (APM) Body of Knowledge (BoK) 5th Edition defines Project Stakeholders as:
Stakeholders are all those with an interest or role in the project or who are impacted by the project.

Naturally this must include your project team and your customer's project team, but the APM definition includes a potentially a wide group of people extending beyond your project team, so who else should be considered as a Stakeholder?

The suggestions below should help you to identify your project stakeholders (see Stakeholder Definition for more on identifying Stakeholders).

Example analysis of project stakeholders

analysis of project stakeholders

Table of typical project stakeholders

The table below lists out some typical Stakeholders who you should consider and manage on any project. Depending on your industry it is very likely that there will be other Stakeholders on your project and these additional stakeholder lists may help.
Project Stakeholder Why you may need to consider these stakeholders
Change Management Team Some organizations will have a Change Management Function responsible for the change management methodology and for developing change strategy and plans. Your project may form part of an overall strategy for organizational change which the change function will be leading.
Contract Management Team and/or procurement Projects involve contractual agreements. For example, between a builder and a client. A specific function may have been responsible for the contract negotiations required for your project. The contracts may contain terms and conditions that impact your project. For example compliance with expense policies or warranties. During the project additional contracts or contract amendments to handle changes e.g. changes to scope.
Customers The customer seems an obvious stakeholder and may be the Sponsor or part of the Project Board. Often the customer is easily identified as the person/people providing the money. Customers will also provide the project requirements. However, it can be difficult to identify the customer or rather the ultimate customer.  If multiple parties are offering requirements, establish who ultimately makes the decisions.
External regulators Eric Verzuh refers to these Stakeholders as ‘representatives of external constraints’ (Verzuh, 2008 pg 47). Central and local government and their agencies have laws and regulations that impact project. Your project may require insurance, it may interface with regulated systems, require permits, access to infrastructure etc. These Stakeholders are often neutral when it comes to your project, but failure to meet their requirements could lead delays or cancellation. Definition of External Regulators
Project Stakeholder Why you may need to consider these stakeholders
Line Managers of project team These are the people who provide the people and resources for your project. They have the power to directly restrict your access to their resources so they are important stakeholders.
Line Managers/representatives of users These are the people who will pass on any negative feedback from users to senior managers. They also control access to the users and can significantly influence the users’ attitude to your project.

Ideally they will be a part of your project team. If not throughout the project at least in the project start-up and design phases when they will input user requirements.
Organisational Risk Management Team Many organizations will have a function dedicated to the management of risk. Your project may be identified by that team as risky or you may simply required to report to or be monitored by the risk management function.
Programme BoardIf your project is part of a wider programme you may well be required to report into a programme level board or steering group.
Project Board/Steering Committee Prince 2 projects require a Project Board to direct the project. Other projects may have a steering committee that will be responsible for project governance.
Project Management Office (PMO) These are effectively the project police. If your organization or customer has a PMO they will likely have some responsibility for governance of your project. This could be manifested in various ways e.g. audits, inspections, report requests written or verbal, risk reviews and so on.
Project Manager(s)
The person responsible for the delivery of the project to time, cost and quality/scope. Likely to be the person responsible for identifying the project stakeholders. Note: that there may be more than one project manager on larger project & programmes.
Project Sponsor or Executive The person(s) ultimately responsible for the success of the project. The final decision maker and likely the holder of the ‘purse strings’.
Project Team The team who will deliver your project. They may be a virtual team assembled specifically for your project and they may be working on the project full or part-time. Without the project team the project won’t happen. See Managing and Motivating project teams
Quality Management Team and/or Test Team The project deliverables will be measured against specific quality criteria. Assessments may be carried out by a specialist function or to a quality management system.

Look for quality or test teams and bear in mind that multiple teams/functions may be involved, for example building regulations and environmental health or specialist assessors for example web accessibility testing.
Sales and Account Management Account Management could be impacted by any project that touches their accounts. Positive project experiences could provide up sell and cross-sell opportunities, whereas project that are perceived negatively could be a barrier to future sales and/or damage relationships.
Suppliers Any subcontractors or companies providing resources for your project should be considered stakeholders. Their contribution will be vital to the project success.
Users Users may or may not form part of your project team, but they will be impacted by the project deliverables. They will contribute requirements, & may be involved in testing, training, piloting, marketing, PR, post-project reviews and so on.

User feedback positive and negative will find its way to senior management either directly or indirectly. Indirect feedback could be achievement or failure to achieve Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), use or lack of use of certain features, increase of churn, or simple bad mouthing.
Stakeholder lists
These suggestions should give a starting point to identifying Project Stakeholders. You can probably think of Stakeholders specific to your industry and project. For more suggestions see this stakeholder list and this example stakeholder map for an IT project.

Project Stakeholders - References

APM Body of Knowledge 5th Ed. Latest edition APM Body of Knowledge, 7th edition

Office of Government Commerce (2009), Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2, London: TSO.

Tres Roeder, 2013. Managing Project Stakeholders: Building a Foundation to Achieve Project Goals . John Wiley & Sons.

Verzuh, E. 2008. The fast forward MBA in project management. Hoboken: J. Wiley. Latest edition of The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management

Project Management resources

Project Management tutorials and How To Guides

How to Plan a Project

Project Teams - The definition and typical make up of Project Teams

What is a Project? Definition and meaning of a project

Stakeholder Management resources

Stakeholder analysis templates in Word, Visio and Excel.

Stakeholder Management ebook

Basic Stakeholder Analysis Method

Happy Stakeholders - Pleasure and Displeasure List

Stakeholder who are Key Players - Some Stakeholders are really important. How do you find them and get them on your side before they can do any damage?

Stakeholder mindmap

Stakeholder Salience